Greatest Games in the History of the National Basketball Association: Game 3 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals
The Los Angeles Lakers Won Game 3 in Portland Against a Very Tough and Determined Opponent
There are games in the history of the NBA (National Basketball Association) that stand out as being memorable enough to justify an analysis of why they were one of the best. One example of this is Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers in 2000. This game is one of the best ones in NBA history because of the way that the Lakers were able to get back in the game and win a huge road game in a place that was very difficult for opposing teams to win. In spite of the fact that the Trailblazers finished the season with a 59-23 record, they played the Lakers so tough that they were like a 70 win team!
Los Angeles Lakers Team Logo
How Good Was That 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers Team?
The Lakers that season under the coaching of Phil Jackson and players such as Shaquille (Shaq) O’ Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Glen Rice finished with a league best 67 wins and 15 losses. They were determined to get rid of their past playoff failures and that is what this team did. How did they beat the Trailblazers in Game 3? First let us give a brief summary of how the Lakers got to the point of winning the game thanks to a huge jump shot by Ron Harper.
What Happened in Game 3?
At the game’s start, due to superb playing by Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Steve Smith and Scottie Pippen, the Lakers looked like they were on the verge of being headed to a very bad double digit loss. Wallace was especially dominant in the low-post area because Laker forward A.C. Green could not guard him. After the first three minutes and 29 seconds of the game, the Lakers trailed 15-2. They trailed by double digits until they picked up their play in the 3rd quarter and came back into the game.
The Huge Role Played by Derek Fisher in Game 3
Derek Fisher was especially important as he gave the Lakers a huge lift off of the bench for them. Fisher had given the Houston Rockets fits in the 1st round in 1999 with his made 3 pointers. Note: Scottie Pippen was on that team in 1999 with Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Game 3 Part 3
By the 7:23 mark in quarter 4, the Lakers built an 83-74 lead. However, the Blazers would not go away quietly as Scottie Pippen came up with a big steal and then he made a 3 pointer to cut the Lakers lead to 87-85. With the game tied at 91 and the fate of the game hanging in the balance, the Lakers made a huge defensive play, stripping the ball out of the hands of Rasheed Wallace. Glen Rice began dribbling the ball up the court when the ball was knocked loose from him with about 15 seconds remaining. Stoudamire dribbled the ball and tried to penetrate the Laker defense. He gave up the ball to Arvydas Sabonis whose original plan was to shoot a 3 pointer but Shaq chased him off of the 3-point line. Sabonis then drove to the basket but then Kobe Bryant being a first team all NBA defender appeared to make what was a clean block on Sabonis, thus sealing the win for the Los Angeles Lakers.
How Did the Los Angeles Lakers Beat Portland in Game 3?
To put this succinctly, the Lakers beat the Trailblazers in Game 3 largely because their bench play picked up in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Two players were responsible for the Laker comeback and they were Derek Fisher and Robert Horry. It is easy for many people to say that the Lakers won the championship that year because of their two star players and Glen Rice but their bench made a huge difference as well. Let’s not forget that it was because of Ron Harper’s 4th quarter jump shot in the left corner that proved to be the game winning shot. It was Kobe Bryant that made that beautiful pass to Ron Harper. It was the Trailblazers’ strategy to make other Lakers players make shots and Ron Harper made a huge jump shot that day! If it was not for the heroics of Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Ron Harper, the Lakers in all likelihood would not have won this Game 3 which over 18 years later is still one of the best games in NBA history. Kobe Bryant, then only 21 years old said in a post-game interview that he just had to read what the defense was doing so that he could make that pass to Harper. Doug Collins even remarked that the shot is one of the most difficult shots to make because you are so wide open.
Memorable Quotes from Doug Collins In Game 3 of the 2000 NBA Western Conference Finals
"Are you kidding me?"
He said this after Kobe Bryant made a great move in the lane in the 4th quarter.
This statement was made after Ron Harper made what was to be the game winning shot.
Does Game 3 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals Have a Lasting Legacy?
If this game has a lasting legacy, it should always be remembered as one of the biggest wins in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise and this game showed the Lakers toughness and resilience.
Game 3 2000 Western Conference Finals Highlights
© 2018 Ara Vahanian